Venting: Explaining the Difference Between Planners & Designers

(Image via via Jude Doyland)

I empathize with most clients who aren’t sure about the difference between what planners do and what designers do.

These two services have become so interchangeable that most of the time, it’s difficult to tell them apart.

Not to mention the local banquet managers from hotels and venues who do not hesitate to tell clients they don’t need a planner.

It’s no wonder our clients are confused about who does what.

In today’s post, I’ll attempt to answer the 10 most controversial questions on this issue:

1. Should a planner suggest what kind of flowers to use at an event? Absolutely not. Even if this is their event, that is not their job. It’s the designer or florist’s job.

2. Should a planner bring the clients to more than one floral designer and let the client decide who they prefer best? I think it depends. If a planner understands their client’s needs, they might more readily know who they should use as a designer or florist.

3. Should a designer have direct contact with a client without their planner’s knowledge? No, they should not. This could potentially create confusion with the project, not to mention undermining the planner’s authority.

4. Is a florist responsible for creating floor plans? That’s easy, no. This should be the responsibility of the planner.

5. If there is a planner and a designer/florist involved, should you bill the clients directly? This depends on the agreement you made with the planner. Personally, I prefer billing directly.

6. If a planner gets a designer a job, or a designer gets a planner a job, should they expect a commission? I know this might be common practice in many areas, but I’ll say a big NO. Ultimately the clients pay, one way or another.

7. Can banquet managers in hotels and venues plan an event? Absolutely not. However, most of them are terrific the day of.

8. Should a florist or designer go to a food tasting? No, it’s up to the the planner to manage all food and beverages.

9. Is it essential for the florist or designer to remain at the event all night after finishing their installation? Only if it’s requested by the planner or client. And also if they are concerned that something might fall. (At times I cannot sleep while the event is happening because of this concern.)

10. Last but not least, is it better to have one person doing both planning and designing? Doing both planning and designing takes a lot of effort and experience. You better know what you are doing, otherwise forget it.

There is a much longer list of questions around this confusion. As usual on Mondays, if you have any questions or issues on any of the above or this problem in general, just ask and I’ll answer you directly by email.

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  • bigsands

    I agree that the roles may sound interchangeable, but as mentioned above, they are in practice very different. Big Sand steel band works very closely with many planners and designers in the UK and it is always a pleasure the be at the events where everything works as planned. Probably over 80% of the planning works on the day without any glitch, some annoying things do happen at venues where the floor management fail to make final checks.

    What’s your experience Preston?


  • Bem Florido / Sandra Bacchin

    It’s ABSOLUTELY fantastic!!!!! It says everything!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    I’l share this in my FB and print it in BIG LETTERS…. ok, clamly…… I’ll let my clients know.rsrrsr

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Charlesa

    I totally agree with all 10 points! This was awesome thanks for sharing.

  • Travis-Lee Moore

    Great info, Mr. Preston, about a confusing topic for prospective clients….

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Michelle

    THANK YOU!!!! These points of distinction are timely.

  • Wendy

    You speak to my heart here! It is so confusing to brides and so easy for designers and banquet managers to suck them in to a false sense of security. TV has not helped either, with so many designers posing as planners. In my mind, a planner should work one on one with the bride and be with the bride on her wedding day. A designer, who has their own expertise and talent, should be seeing to the venue so that the planner CAN be with the bride. Love this article! thank you Preston for writing it!!

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  • Nishaka

    This is a great blog. I hope this blog makes it’s way to the public to help redefine the industry. I am by nature and profession the Event Planner. I have a great Florist that I work with on many projects. I also have a Designer I work with as needed based on the project requirements. I have made sure that I have learned enough about each to have a general conversation about those areas, but I rely on the Florist and Designers expertise for recommendations and doing the actual jobs, while I stay focused on the entire project. By nature, I am a project manager and work best in the capacity.

    All 10 points are excellent. Thanks for bringing clarity.

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Lena

    I love this article!! Much love for putting it in back and white!!

  • Elyn Rahman

    As usual, you hit the nail on the head and always say it like it is. Thank you for hopefully setting the record straight.

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Macey

    Talk to me about managing employees. Despite ensuring that staff facilities, reimbursement, training etc are excellent, it’s just not enough. I have employee’s walking off the job. My competitors who provide far less, seem not to have this problem and are busier than ever. What am I missing?

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Pat

    What about DJ’s selling everything from lounge furniture, lighting, entertainment and decor? I so agree with your assessment of the planner/designer/florist situation but have recently run into this situation competing with my clients DJ who is offering advice & selling items ala carte that totally go against our design concept with no conscience as to how it will fit or look in the venue.

  • http://YOURWEBSITE valda fitzpatrick

    Thank you so much for all your advise which i incorporate in what i do.
    Your artistry, talent and you as a person have made a tremendous impact in my designs.Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Just Me

    Excellent points and worth repeating on a regular basis. As the planner, I am the “Project Manager” and I manage all of the details. Any vendor that works with me is required to sign a document that prohibits them from communicating directly with my client. If it happens to be a vendor that was contracted prior to me coming on board, they sign an agreement stating that I must be included in all client communications. My clients love it and it saves a lot grief. I’m not difficult but my clients are precious to me and I can’t do my best job, if I don’t know what’s going on.

  • Ladna Amin

    ****THANK YOU****

    This has always been a confusing matter and you’ve made it so simple in this post. Thank you so much for sharing this!!!

  • http://YOURWEBSITE GoIzzy

    I fall under that #10.
    When I did read #9 I laughed out loud. Yes it happens…..
    Great post!

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Stephanie

    Preston ,
    I consider myself a Event Designer. I really won’t to just design however I have done the planning aspects and charged a planner fee because the clients wanted to deal with one main person. It is alot of work I know so I decide to revamp this year to just handle design, rentals and staging. I have started my line of custom linens and decor so I want to move totally away from the planning and hire a planner who handles details and logistics. I agree with your blog and think the lines get crossed a lot. I have learned to stay in my lane and do what I do best and make it my focus.

  • Angela Proffitt

    Thank you so much for posting this for brides to be! I get this exact question on a weekly basis and try to explain to clients that the design is one piece to the puzzle!

    I posted this on my blog and facebook, hoping to reach many confused brides out there!

  • Savannah (Pearls and Pages)

    Great and helpful info, Preston. I think a lot of us in the business can understand this and relate to this info, but the clients are another story. It’s great to have this detailed for them, and as a reminder to the designers and planners. Getting mixed communication signals or interruptions in the design could definitely be a recipe for disaster. Everyone doing their specific tasks and working together to create an amazing event and memories is the goal. And I couldn’t agree more with leaving the flower breeds up to the florist. That’s their knack!
    Thanks for the tips and as-always-great topics!

    The French Bouquet:

  • Angela MALICKI events

    Well said!!! No one could have said it better than you Preston.

  • http://alicehendry.comOURWEBSITE Alice Hendry


  • http://alicehendry.comOURWEBSITE Alice Hendry

    Everyone today is saying they are a planner and so it is very confusing to our brides. This topic is one that has become continually more challenging for brides to understand. I am a second generation wedding planner and do both the planning and design with the help of great & talented vendors. After capturing the vision of a bride, the design details are a blast! But someone has to capture the vision and begin to bring it to life. It is so important to have one person looking after the big picture on behalf of the bride and bring it to fruition optimizing every element. Thank you for putting it out there Preston!!!!